Thursday, October 10, 2013

GM Jesse Kraai - Writer

Hola darlings!  Well, I practically fell off this chair (no, it does not resemble a bar stool) earlier this evening when I was scrolling through about 100 emails (when did I get so popular?) and I saw one from Jesse Kraai.

I went - WHAT?  Maybe my eyes bugged out a little, too, you know, like the cartoons -- BOIIINNNGG!

Then I thought, nah, that can't possibly be an email from GM Jesse Kraai.  Why on earth would he be writing to me?  But, turns out, I was dead wrong about that.  HOLY HATHOR!

Well, maybe he's written to half the female chess bloggers on the face of the earth, but that's okay.  What he asked was if I'd be interested in reviewing his new novel - about a young chess femme who learns the game under the tutelage of a Russian chessmaster.  It was a story he had to write. 

I mean, come on, how could I possibly resist?  Of course I said yes, send me the book at once, you understand - at once!  Nah, I wasn't quite that demanding.  I do have good manners on occasion and Grandma Newton would be proud of me, I brought them out tonight. 

So, I'm excited about this new project I've accepted.  It has been many moons since I've done a chess book review and this is the time of year in southeastern Wisconsin where settling in with a good book before the fireplace would be a perfect way to spend a few chilly afternoons on a weekend.

I quickly visited the link to the website Jesse sent me, and read this little tease of a post (really Jesse? One teensy-weensy post?  Give us something more please!) -- excerpted here:

The chess pieces knew how they moved. They knew what they wanted too.

and thought - OHMYGODDESS!  How on earth could he possibly know that THAT is exactly how I feel about chess and how it SHOULD work for a player who has IT, and how much I want to have IT and see those pieces dancing around the chessboard like the ibau that the ancient Egyptians called their boardgame pieces -- a pun on their words for dancers (ibau) and ivory (ebou, ebu, abu) .

Brooklyn Museum:  A partial gameboard of 30 squares (a/k/a Senet) and two different types of ibau, these made
of Egyptian faience, not ivory (ebou), as the earliest gaming pieces were carved from c. 5000 years ago. Taken in
May, 2009 during our second trip to New York. 

Of course chess pieces have a mind of their own!  Just ask me when a rook (most recent game against William, a pick-up game at or a bishop (a game a week or so ago with my chess buddy Shira Evans Sanford) just seem so damn determined to HANG THEMSELVES.  They just dance right over to the absolutely worst square on the board they could possibly pick, and laugh about it, rubbing their teeny little hands together in glee thinking how brilliantly they are performing.  No vision of the Big Bad Wolf with super-long blood-coated teeth just waiting to chomp them down ever enters into their vision, nope. 

Of course, those players who have IT, their pieces never have the thought of hanging themselves; they move about the board on angels' wings, like feathers, touching here, a toe there, a turn, a lunge, a pirouette and poof, there goes your Rook, white pieces, ha!  And it's checkmate in three and YOU don't see it coming for a change.  Ah yes, the stuff I dream about at night.  Do you know how damn frustrating it is, playing such chess in your dreams, only to turn into the Ash Girl, or in my case, old enough to be an Ash Grandma, in the morning?  I have not been able to shut down the chess dreams. May as well deliberately try and stop my own heart beating.  Ach!  I can truly say with what wisdom I have  garnered over 62 years that I sympathize with those chessplayers who have gone off the deep end when, like The Red Shoes, the ibau never stop dancing...

Jesse, are you going to turn this into a series, like a chessly Hermione Granger?  We need a better role model than Beth Harmon, Walter Bevis' creation -- and I only re-read his book five times, couldn't get enough of Beth and that fantastic, wonderful, glorious chess she played. Can't wait to meet Lisa! 

Listen to me - the book hasn't even been put into the mail yet.  Maybe Jesse will change his mind and decide he doesn't want me reviewing his book after all...

Okay, peoples, forget you read this blog post!

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